63.06 Miles / 343.61 Total Miles
4619 Ft. of Elevation Gain / 21,611 Ft. Total Elevation Gain
We hated to leave Rob and Patty’s homey place, but there is this schedule we are sticking to. We got on the road at 8:33, and Ed was irritated that I had held up our departure by 33 minutes. As I peddled along, I thought about all the little steps required to start the day. I do what I can the night before, laying out food and on bike and off bike clothes for the next day, washing my bottles, putting anything I can away in my panniers, etc. Then in the morning, there is a long list that has to be done to make the ride safe, including filling my water bottles with Gatorade or some other concoction; putting high salt/high carb snacks in my top tube bag; checking the air in my tires; applying chamois creme, sunscreen and lip balm; putting all the bags, lights, devices, tent poles, etc. on the bike; turning on my 3 lights; and I do like to have a healthy visit to the bathroom before departing for a day with no known services up the road, which has been most days, thus far. Let’s see, now, which of these should I cut out to save time?
When we started out, we were routed onto a nice, scenic bike path for a couple of miles. Then when it ended, we were dumped onto Highway 20 to begin the climb into the Colville National Forest and up Sherman Pass, the highest pass in the state that is accessible year-round. The climb was straight uphill, with only one brief moment where it levelled out for a couple hundred feet. Total climb: 18 miles with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Ed didn’t think it was that hard, but I thought it was a complete sufferfest. I watched the grade the entire way, and it was a steady 5-6%. Every once in a while, a girl needs a break from all that climbing, but so far, on this tour, there hasn’t been one.
When we got to the top, it was chilly, so I put my jacket on for the descent, and boy was I glad I did. It was downright cold till we dropped to a warmer elevation. On our way down, we stopped at a couple of historic sites. The White Mountain Fire Overlook told about how in 1988, the largest forest fire in Washington’s history, the White Fire Complex, burned over 305,000 acres of forest, miles and miles of which we have been cycling through. The forest has grown back nicely. It’s amazing how trees and plantlife regenerate.
And the Little America site commemorated the young men who worked out of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) work camp located here, from 1934-1941. Initially, to be one of the chosen workers who earned $1 a day to build roads, buildings and other facilities in the National Forests, you had to be an unmarried, unemployed, male aged 17-25, who was of good character. Later, women, veterans and married couples were included. These folks were required to send $25 of their monthly wages home to their families, and they were happy to work hard for this pittance of a wage, free housing and meals. Times sure have changed. I can’t even imagine what it would take to incent our current unemployed youth or even unemployed people in general to work like the CCC guys did.
A few days ago, I got a message from Andrew Wilson, a former Airbnb guest, who stayed at my house in Ahwatukee, with his wife, during the first quarter of 2020, while she completed her final internship for her Doctor of Physiotherapy. Just a few days ago, they were living and working in Hawaii, but now, they are back on the mainland, riding their tandem bike westbound from Spokane to Seattle. I sent my maps and itinerary to them, and Andrew has been tracking our progress. So this morning, I received a message from him that we would be able to meet up in Kettle Falls, which is just across the Columbia River. As I got closer, I he text messaged me that they were hanging out in the city park for the afternoon, so I headed that way. It was great to see them and to share ideas about gear, compare saddle sores, and discuss retirement and life plans. They are young, but yes, they are now retired and living the rest of their lives very simply. They do have a handful of other belongings, e.g., their backpacks and the suitcases their tandem bike folds down and fits into, that are being stored at Andrew’s parent’s house, but their bike and what they are carrying on it are basically all their earthly belongings. I told them they need to write a book. What do you think?
I hated to get back on the bike again, but I had to get to our accommodations for the evening–the Bacon Bike Hostel. I was not prepared for the amount of climbing required to get there, and it was a killer for my already tired legs. But it was good to have a real bed to sleep in, a real shower to get cleaned up in and laundry facilities. Okay, so the dryer wasn’t working, but Ed and I both have clotheslines with us and were able to hang all of our laundry up to dry. I should have been a Boy Scout.
We ran into the first Northern Tier cyclists we’ve seen along the route, today. A just retired couple from Boise flew by us, just as we were beginning our ascent up Sherman Pass, and then stopped to talk for a few minutes. They were riding with a friend who was joining them for the day, while his wife carried their gear in a vehicle. If you know anyone who lives along this route who would like to do that for a day, tell them we have a great volunteer opportunity for them. The second couple is from Maine, and they are staying at the Bacon Hostel. They are about our age–maybe younger, and they are out of shape. So they ride half as far as we do in a day, then they take a day off after each day of riding. If they have all the time in the world to complete this ride, they may actually be able to finish it.
I had a malfunction today that forced me to stop my Garmin before the ride was over, so I had to save the trip from the city park in Kettle Falls to Bacon Bike Hostel separately. That means you have to add the numbers together to get the total numbers for the day. Of course that doesn’t work for the Average Speed.